In 10 starts since returning on Feb. 26 from a torn biceps tendon, Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur has nine wins and three shutouts. Brodeur needs three more shutouts to break Terry Sawchuk's NHL record of 103 shutouts and the Devils have 11 games remaining.
At the pace he's set since returning, that might be enough time for Brodeur to also break the shutouts record before the end of this season. (He broke the NHL wins record on Tuesday).
"I hope so," said Brodeur, who will go for career shutout No. 102 Sunday in Boston. "That's what I'm going to work every game, to get one. But I've never thought about making shutouts. You always think about playing well and winning the hockey game. Depending upon what the score is, if we just score one goal, I'm going to need to have a shutout to win.
"Shutouts are shutouts. There are so many things involved in them. It's hard to set an estimate of time. You can go through the stats if you want to, but there were 40-something games in a row that I didn't have one sometimes,. Others, I'm able to get back-to-back (shutouts), so it's hard to tell,"
For example, Brodeur started the final 41 games of last season without posting a shutout.
Devils coach Brent Sutter doesn't believe this record chase will be a distaction -- just as Brodeur's pursuit of Patrick Roy's wins record was not a distraction.
"That's not a distraction at all," Sutter said of the shutouts record. "It's a different scenario, but it's no different than the wins. It wasn't a distraction to us. That record was going to be broken because you're having success and this record is going to be broken because you're having success. Is it going to happen this year? I don't know. But you know it's going to happen."
Sutter conceded that it is possible that Brodeur will break the shutout record this year, "if you want to go on the percentages of what's happened in the first 10 games, but who knows? I don't know to answer that because all it takes is one bad bounce and it doesn't happen. All it takes is one goal. It's different than a win."
After today's practice, some of the Devils were debating the merits of playing in college over playing major junior. They had a friendly discussion over whether the winner of the Memorial Cup would beat the winner of the NCAA title in a head-to-head matchup.
Brian Gionta, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac were on the college side of the debate. Mike Rupp, David Clarkson and Jamie Langenbrunner (only a little bit) were arguing for the merits of junior hockey.